Kud Ting wetland, Thailand

Want a snapshot of what’s happening with the Mekong Water Dialogues (MWD)? Then this is for you. With partners, stakeholders and National Working Groups in mind, we provide an update of the MWD activities across the Lower Mekong Region. We’re counting on you to let us know how we’re doing and what you’d like to hear more about. Contact us


Regional training - Environmental flows in action


Population growth, industrial and farmland expansion in Asia are stretching the limits of water allocation for nature’s needs. Environmental Flows, or ensuring sufficient water for both people and nature, was the theme of a training workshop in Khao Lak, Thailand. Investing in natural infrastructure, such as restoring floodplains, wetlands and rivers can complement engineered hard infrastructure, to help reduce the impact of flood events such as experienced in the recent Thailand flooding in late 2011.

Around 50 members of the MWD National Working Groups joined the training in the first week of November, participants also included representatives from other environmental organizations and governments in Southeast Asia. Through the workshop and field trip, the participants gained knowledge and information about river health and practical approaches for managing waterways, plants and animals.

Read the full story, written by a member of the MWD Lao PDR National working group>

Workshop participants visit ‘water onion’ conservation site.
Indigenous women seminar for the Mekong Water Dialogues, Chiang Rai province, Thailand

Indigenous women raise their voices on conservation challenges

MWD Thailand held a seminar for indigenous women to discuss water management for food security and adaptation to climate change. Understanding women’s perspectives, interests, opportunities, and traditional knowledge is one of the aims for MWD Thailand. In addition, gaining insight into local women’s concerns about changes in water and food resources, due to social-economic-cultural stresses alongside a changing climate, is of key interest. The seminar was attended by 20 women (representing 10 ethnic groups across northern Thailand), who identified introduced crops as a potential threat to watershed management and local livelihoods. As a result of the discussions, the women were encouraged to take a lead role in local conservation and river basin management.


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A woman fishing at a fishing hole in Beung Kiat Ngong.

Bounty found in wetlands

MWD’s work in Champassak Province, Lao PDR, is addressing women’s groups and their traditional use of natural resources.  During a recent field survey in Beung Kiat Ngong wetlands, MWD talked with local women about their daily work.  Previously it was thought that the food collected in the swamp and wetlands would be quite limited, however the women demonstrated that the fish and aquatic plants form the main part of their diet. This example of high dependency on locally collected food emphasizes the importance of biodiversity conservation to local livelihoods and has prompted MWD in Lao PDR to pursue conservation activities in the Beung Kiat Ngong wetlands.


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Conserving Biodiversity and Sustaining Livelihoods along the Mekong River


In September, the IUCN Lao PDR office organized the first ecological survey of the Mekong River between Luang Prabang and Vientiane. Detailed bird or other fauna surveys have not yet been conducted in many areas along this section of the river. This study was the preliminary step of a five year Mekong conservation project, financed by the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF). The area is considered a critical habitat, migration and breeding corridor for numerous species of conservation and economic significance.

The area also supports around 30,000 local residents, who depend directly on healthy populations of migratory fish and other fauna and flora, intact river habitats, a reliable water source and protection against flooding. However, within the study area, habitat around channels are being lost or degraded due to: increasing infrastructure development (roads, ports, sand mining, bank reinforcement); conversion of riverbank habitats for agriculture; over-fishing; and hunting. At least three dams are also planned on the Mekong mainstream within the study area.

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Biodiversity survey in a village along the Mekong river in Lao PDR, Mekong Water Dialogues

Conservation action for Boeung Chhmar Ramsar site, Tonle Sap

Cambodia's Tonle Sap, or Great Lake, is the largest freshwater lake in Southeast Asia. Tonle Sap is a combined lake and river system of major importance to Cambodia. The Tonle Sap ecosystem includes the Boeung Chhmar Ramsar site, declared a wetland of international importance in 1999. Yet even under this classification, a high level of fishing continued and the fish stocks declined. In August 2011, following regulation 001 from Prime Minister Hun Sen, the national Council Ministry with Tonle Sap Authority of Ministry of Water Resources and Meteorology are implementing a three-year suspension of fishing activity across 35 fishing lots in Tonle Sap, including some located in the Boeung Chhmar Ramsar site. To ensure the biodiversity of the area is sustainably managed at the end of the moratorium, MWD has begun to work directly with the local authorities and communities in Boeung Chhmar.

Working with the project partners, MWD, the Department of Wetland and Coastal Zone (DWCZ) and Birdlife International conducted a field trip at the end of December 2011 to validate maps and boundaries to help define future management activities. An achievement of the project was the approval of the final field trip report by all relevant departments, including the Siem Reap Deputy Provincial Governor, enabling the DWCZ to use the report as a reference document to seek further approval from other government levels. As a continuation of the work, a consultation workshop will be held to endorse boundary demarcation and seek additional approval from local governors. MWD anticipates high participation in the workshop from provincial line departments leading to to increased awareness of policy makers at the national level.

In addition, the DWCZ has proposed Prek Toal, another area within Tonle Sap, to become a Ramsar site. The outcome of the work completed in Boeung Chhmar will directly impact the success of this application and with previous experience in zoning, IUCN Cambodia is providing technical support to the application. 

Cambodia, participates in validation of maps for boundary demarcation in the Boeung Chhmar Ramsar site, Tonle Sap
House submerged in Hong Ngu district, Dong Thap Province during floods (taken in September 2011)

Man vs. nature: flooding in the Mekong Delta


The recent flooding in the Mekong Delta has forced decision makers to address an important question: Does it make sense for the state to support the high levels of investment in large-scale water resource management infrastructure needed to produce a third crop of rice? The answer depends on who is asked and how costs and benefits are defined. Many researchers and farmers representatives argue that the direct and hidden costs of a third crop exceed the benefits in terms of the extra rice produced. But many government officials insist that a third crop of rice makes economic sense. So what’s next?

Read on>

Vietnamese version>

Local fishmen in Koh Khon Keo, Stung Treng, (Ramsar site), Cambodia

An analysis of key factors for successful community based fishery management


Stung Treng province is located in the Northeastern Cambodia, and the wetlands in Stung Treng support thousands of people with food, water, aquatic products and timber and non-timber products from its riverside and flooded forests. The area is also of high importance to the work of MWD in Cambodia.


An analysis was undertaken to explore the key factors for successful community-based fishery management; using the village of Stung Treng Province as the case study. The work was undertaken through a partnership of an MWD Cambodia National Working Group member and the Culture and Environment Preservation Association (CEPA) (an IUCN member) The research found that during the 1990s, access to fishing grounds in Koh Sneng, was unregulated and resulted in the severe depletion of fish stocks. By 2000, a village fishery community was established, managed by the local fishers, and subsequently illegal practices were stopped. 


In response to increasing pressure for the privatization of access to their fishing grounds, the people in Koh Sneng recognized that collective organization was necessary to address the restricted access to natural resources. The people responded by strengthening their management systems to ensure that aquatic resources are managed more sustainably, they hoped their newly established fishery community could both increase village solidarity, natural resource management capacity at the government and village level, and increase fish stocks. In terms of fishery policies, laws and national framework, the study found that the key factor for success of community based fisheries management is to ensure that fishery resources are managed by a strong and active local community, commune council and fisheries department. These sectors will need to collaborate together to manage and reduce illegal fishing in the area.


10-19 February, Thailand

Mekong nine-day conservation expedition
MWD Thailand is taking an active role to help organize the “Dhamma Yatra walking for Mekong nature”. The nine-day walking pilgrimage will start in on 10 February in Chiang San at the Golden Triangle village in northern Thailand. The walk will follow the Mekong River for 131 kilometers and finish at Kang Pha Dai, where the Mekong flows to Lao PDR. The celebration of nature and conservation aims to create public awareness by bringing communities together to share and learn about the riverside conditions along the Mekong. Experts and local speakers will lead information seminars throughout the event.

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28 February - 02 March 2011
Building Resilience to Climate Change – Coastal Southeast As
First Annual Coastal Forum – Chanthaburi Thailand
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01-03 May
Mekong2Rio - International conference on transboundary river basin management



26 - 31 August 2012, Stockholm, Sweden
World Water Week - Water and Food Security


21-24 May 2013, Kuching, Malaysia
World Congress on Advancing Sustainable Hydropower

IUCN MWD Thailand helps with preparations for the Mekong Dhamma Yatra

Scoping and planning of Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) and River Basin Management (RBM) component in Lao PDR and Thailand for the Mekong Water Dialogues

Dialogue on Environmental Governance Issues in Craft Villages in Bac Ninh Province, Viet Nam: A Summary Report

Baseline Report on Beung Kiat Ngong Wetland, Lao PDR

Baseline Report on Xe Champhone Wetland, Lao PDR

Logos of the Mekong Water Dialogues and Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Finland.

MWD is coordinated and facilitated by IUCN and supported by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland. It was initiated to work with countries of the Lower Mekong - Cambodia, Lao PDR, Thailand and Viet Nam - to improve water governance by facilitating transparent and inclusive decision-making for improved livelihood security, human and ecosystem health. To subscribe or unsubscribe from this mailing list – please reply to this email.